(I'm not a musician.) I was taught as a child that I must not 'blow my own trumpet' as in talking about myself – especially not to say anything good about myself. I was also taught that much of what I could say about myself was nonsense and I needn't expect anyone to believe it. If I myself believed it, I must be insane. If not, I was obviously a liar. Telling my story, therefore, became a very confronting task. I am now 76, as I begin this blog, and it is only a preparation – things I write on the way to writing the memoir.

Friday, 3 March 2017

Crossing a Threshold Part 3

The Good Stuff

I’m a Scorpio, sign of death and regeneration. I sometimes say of myself that I’ve lived many lives in one.  My four years at Three Bridges might be seen to constitute one distinct life: so different from how I lived both before and afterwards.  At the time it seemed that by moving away from Melbourne to the Upper Yarra Valley I had indeed crossed a threshold into a new life there. Later it became apparent that the whole of my time there was an extended threshold between two much longer phases – including two marriages, two different kinds of working life, and two stages of my spiritual/magical journey.

What I left behind (albeit by choice) was: having my children under the same roof; the easy accessibility of many good friends; a home and neighbourhood I enjoyed; membership in poetry groups, including a publishing cooperative; opportunities to showcase my work at festivals and performances; positions as Poetry Writing teacher in Professional Writing courses at two different Colleges; an invitation to join a State Government Board responsible for funding poets and poetry, issuing grants and so forth, which carried prestige as well as responsibility; proximity to my beloved theatres, galleries and bookshops; and living by the ocean. What I entered into after leaving Three Bridges … will come later.

Meantime, we settled into life in that part of the country. Various friends from Melbourne came up from time to time to spend weekends with us, and we made new friends locally. 

When our firstborn, David, turned 21, he and all his friends came up for a big three-day-weekend party. We parents made ourselves scarce fairly early in the evening. There was plenty of sleeping room, some of it dormitory-style; and they enjoyed walks in the bush or picnicking in the garden during daylight hours.

The nearby towns were Yarra Junction, Warburton and (a little further) Healesville. I discovered a second-hand furniture shop in Yarra Junction, where I picked up treasures very cheaply to help furnish our new home, and was proud of myself for finding these bargains. I still have a wonderful basket we used for logs for our open fire. It hasn't served that purpose for a long time – no open fires anywhere I’ve lived since – but has had various other uses.  It’s still good 28 years later, and I think it’s handsome. (That's the base of an electric fan behind it – a very different climate here.)


We decided to start a writers’ group at home, as we had sometimes done in Melbourne, because it’s fun to play with others. I approached the Yarra Junction Neighbourhood Centre and met the warmly welcoming manager, Marie. She advertised the writers’ group, took enrolments, and we ran it as one of their outreach programs. A diverse group of lovely people turned up, men and women both, with a wide age range. With my old contacts, I was able to bring guest speakers to talk to them at times, about different aspects of writing. Everyone chipped in a small amount to cover the visitors' travelling costs, and we fed them. We ended up producing a book of our work, using a local printer.

The group ran its course and eventually disbanded. Marie asked if I'd like to start another. On impulse, I said that what I'd really like to do was run a meditation class. I didn't mean esoteric meditation, just the relaxation kind. I'd been thinking I should get back into some of that, and that it might help to have a group around me. Marie got very excited.

'Ooh, can you do that? I've been looking for someone!' And so I ran successive short, basic meditation classes.

I met a wonderful woman, an author called Dulcie Stone, who ran an innovative Adult Literacy class. We were kindred spirits! I trained with her as a teacher of Adult Literacy. But as it turned out, I never used that qualification professionally.

A poet friend from Melbourne was working as a tutor at Box Hill College of TAFE, a suburb on the side of Melbourne closest to the Upper Yarra Valley. They needed a Poetry Writing teacher in their Professional Writing course and he suggested me. I was surprised and pleased to get the call. It was work I loved, we could use the money, and the travelling was reasonable. I did that for some years, loved my students and fellow staff, and we even hosted some wonderful writers' weekends for them at our place. (Later someone pointed out that we could have charged money for that, but we never thought of it. We did it for the enjoyment.)

I met the editor of a local newspaper emanating from Healesville;  she asked if I would contribute occasional poems and articles, so I did. At one time we collaborated to run a poetry competition through the newspaper

Because of Reiki, I became fascinated by healing and energy, and while I lived there I had the opportunity to learn other forms, such as Touch for Health, which is the beginners' version of Kinesiology, from a local teacher, and Shiatsu in Melbourne from visiting American teacher Denise Linn. (They are good modalities, as are others I've studied since, but I always come back to Reiki for its ease, power and beauty.)

My friend Ann Adcock came for a visit. I had met her through Reiki, and she had recently become a Reiki Master. When she saw our big room, and the number of bedrooms, she got excited about the idea of holding Reiki seminars there, and as she spoke of the possibility, we got excited too. We went on to hold several weekend classes there, Level I and Level II, with both local students and some who came up from Melbourne.

Ann and I soon realised I would do Reiki Master training with her – but not just yet. I had to be a Reiki channel for five years before even being eligible to train. Because she knew of other healing and spiritual work I’d done, Ann waived the fifth year, but I still had to complete the fourth. I finally began training late in 1991.

Meanwhile, this was when my friend Jenette invited me to do her course, The Master Game. She promised it would be extremely confronting as well as transformational. It was! And perfectly timed for me, as it turned out – of which more later.

I was invited to do a course in intuitive drawing, taught by an artist called Valerie Anderson. We worked with chalk pastels, and I loved it. Bill made me an easel, and I set it up on our long veranda. Also I spontaneously followed my teacher's example, with her approval, doing aura drawings for people (aka energy portraits). I used coloured pencils, tuned in, and got a knowing about what colours to select and what they should do on the paper. I don't actually see auras; it was all channelled. I would simultaneously get a type of spiritual reading for the person, different colours signifying different things. (Later on – post-Three Bridges – this became a professional skill.)

In June 1991 Bill and I celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary with an 'at home'. People could come any time afternoon or evening and stay whatever length of time suited them. Lots of friends travelled from Melbourne – we had plenty of parking space – most of them arriving mid-afternoon and staying late into the night. It was a great party!

The Committee responsible for the annual Warburton Bookfest asked me for input. I became one of the organisers several years running. (Three? Four? I’m not sure now.) Naturally I brought poetry into the mix – and again I sometimes brought big names up from Melbourne to participate, as well as getting local poets involved.

In Melbourne I’d had my own independent publishing business, Abalone Press (because Bill, an abalone diver, was funding it) which published contemporary Australian poets. It was pretty well defunct by the time we moved to Three Bridges. But while I was there, I wrote a poem I was pleased with called 'The Small Poem in Autumn' and showed it to my friend Jenette, who said, ‘You should write a book called "Small Poems of April".  So I did: a new small poem most days, and sometimes more than one a day. Abalone Press had never published any of my work – I thought that wouldn't be quite ethical – but I decided I could wind the business up, 10 years after it began, with a book of my own. So Small Poems of April was launched at the last Warburton Bookfest I was involved with.

Warburton had a lot of nostalgia for me. The Bookfest was held in what had once been the cinema – which my (paternal) Uncle Don had run decades before. I had memories of attending that cinema during my teenage visits to Grandma, who lived with Uncle Don and his family in a granny flat. The old Mechanics Institute Library was still there. My Grandma ran it when I was a teenager. I used to go and help her when I was visiting, and that was no doubt a factor in my becoming a librarian after I left University. And there had been Aunty Amy, my spinster great-aunt, Grandma’s older sister, with her beautiful home and all her old family stories. My late grandfather, whom I never met, had been one of the founders of Warburton; he and his brother had the pub. But that was long before.

Now Grandma and Aunty Amy were dead. Uncle Don, once a builder (his day job), had long been in care elsewhere, after becoming a paraplegic when he fell off a roof. My cousins were grown up and married, and only one still lived in the area. I knew Aunty Margo (Don’s wife) was somewhere around. She finally caught up with me at one of the Bookfests, and that was nice; but although it was  a friendly encounter, we didn’t have any great stake in socialising.

My Dad, my connection to the place – though he spent his adult life far from there, first in Tasmania and then Mildura – died in 1988. 

In 1991, the year before I left Three Bridges (though I didn't yet know I would) I saw in the paper that Don Robinson had died, and his funeral would be at one of the Warburton churches. I put on a smart black suit and attended. As I walked towards the church, an elderly woman learned out of a car window to ask me, ‘Where’s Don’s funeral?’ and I directed her. I thought she must be my Aunty Margaret, sister to my Dad and my Uncle Don, whom I hadn’t seen since I was 15.    

Don’s eldest, my cousin Bernard, whom I also hadn’t seen for many years, spoke. Afterwards I went up and said hello to him and his wife and congratulated him on an excellent speech. ‘Your father would have been proud,’ I said, truthfully. But then I left without greeting anyone else. I had grown up in Tasmania, didn't really know the extended family in Victoria, and I was embarrassed that Bill hadn't come with me. He’d refused.

I’ve made it all sound wonderful, haven’t I, up until that point? And I’ve told the truth. I look back in amazement at how much I accomplished during those four years. But there was another side to the story, running parallel.


8 comments:

  1. I am a scorpio, too. I hate that you keep putting me off. I am reading your story with much interest...and then you say, "I will tell about that later." Makes me want to scream..."I want to know now!" You have brought me to this point, and then asked me to wait...not even a hint?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh dear – LOL – yes, that is SO Scorpio. Sorry, sorry, sorry. I'm writing as fast as I can! Hint: this was the good stuff; there was also a lot of bad happening in the same four years. And you must already know I ended up married to Andrew instead of Bill. Thank you for reading so avidly. xx

      Delete
    2. Rosemary, your life seems so jammed full of people and experiences, that it sort of takes my breath away. Where did you ever get the energy for all of this? Yes, I know, you were plugged into a source of endless supply, but I would have found it hard to keep track of it all. It does make for good reading, and like Annell, I don't want to wait either,

      Elizabeth

      Delete
    3. Elizabeth, I wonder at it myself, now that I'm cataloguing it all. And this is the condensed version! Just remembering it all took some doing after so long! But once I began writing, everything started coming back. And then I realised I needed yet another section to fully encompass it. Maybe, when I prepare a final ms some day, I'll cut out some of this, but for now I wouldn't know what to omit. (I've already left out the pregnant horse we agisted for a friend!)

      Delete
  2. Fascination is still with me. I'm so glad I'm reading all the sequences at once today. Your life is so full. I'm always amazed at how you and others have such good memory about people and names. I'm afraid that is one of my biggest challenges in writing autobiography. Again, I'm looking forward to continuing your story.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's one of those instances of having to put the match to the fire before it starts to burn. (Grin.) Begin writing what little you recall, and it will be surprising how much starts flooding back. I thought I had finished this episode a few times, then would recall something else that had to go in too.

      Delete
  3. Wow, Rosemary, you take my breath away. I want to comment more fully on the I.P. site, but I, too, am amazed at how prolific and productive you are and yes, you ARE plugged into the universal energy supply. I am impressed by all you did in four short years and am impatient to hear the continuation of - and the other parallel - story. Yippee! This is wonderful.

    ReplyDelete